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Good Words 1860
We Wish You A Good New-Year!
By the Editor


With these old and familiar "Good Words" we greet our readers on the first day of 18G0! Nor are they "words of course," but from the heart. Before, however, entering further on our literary labours, and commencing an intercourse of thought which may possibly be continued for many years, we ask our readers to unite with us in expressing the honest prayer before God, that "good words," and good words only, may be published from week to week in these pages— words of truth and soberness, of wisdom and love, such as will help to make this year a good one to us all, and each succeeding year of our existence still better.

There are few of us, probably, who can enter another year, without hearing ''a timid voice that asks in whispers" many things of infinite importance to ourselves. We find it difficult, if we even wished to do so, to silence those ''obstinate questionings" regarding all that may possibly happen to us, or to those dear to us as our own souls, ere this year ends. There is something very solemnising in thus steadily contemplating all that must come, or all that may come, out of the unseen and unknown future. Whether we are to live or die; whether beloved friends are to be spared to us or to be taken away; whether a year of prosperity or adversity is before us; whether we are to become more godly or more worldly,—such questions, multiplied a hundredfold, or broken up into every variety of anxious inquiry, crowd on the heart and mind of most people who think at all, at such a season as the present.

Now, the year on which we have entered may indeed be a year of pain, sickness, bereavement, poverty, and of trial manifold. A dark cloud may, at this moment, be gathering, which will settle, during the year, over our house, and hide heaven's sun from our eyes, and discharge "fire, hail, snow, and storm" upon our devoted heads. Nevertheless, let this thought cheer us, that what the world may call our "bad," or our "worst" year, God may see, and we may acknowledge, it to be tlie best year of our life!

This is possible. Nay it is certain, if we are only able habitually to do this one thing—to TRUST GOD!

Let us consider this.

To trust God, remember, is to trust Himself—a living, personal God. It is not to trust to any means whatever whereby He makes Himself known. It is to look through them all as through pure glass; or to go by them all as by the steps of a ladder, to the living God himself.

To trust God is more than trusting to any truth even revealed in the Bible, for it is trusting the Person who spoke the truth, or of whom the truth is spoken.

To trust God is one and the same thing with trusting Jesus Christ, because He and the Father are one; and they who see, know, and love Jesus, necessarily see, know, and love God. Upon the other hand, whoever does not trust the Son, does not trust the Father. He may be trusting to a being of his own mind—an idol—whom he calls God; but this is not the living and true God, who is one in character with Jesus.

To trust God is to trust Him as He is revealed in all the fulness of His glorious character. It is to trust Him as true, and therefore faithful in keeping every promise, and in fulfilling every threat; as wise, and therefore never erring in any arrangement made for the wellbeing of His creatures; as righteous, and therefore doing right to each and all; as holy, and therefore hating evil, and loving good; as merciful, and therefore pardoning the guilty through a Redeemer; —it is, in one word, to trust Him, "whose name is Love!"—love which penetrates every attribute, and is the security for every blessing!

To trust God is to delight in His will as a good will; in whatever way that will is to be fulfilled, whether in us, or by us, actively or passively, by our doing, or by our submitting.

This trust in God is not common. Nothing, indeed, so common in men's mouths as phrases which seem to imply trust; such as, "I trust in God," "I have all my dependence on God," "We have none else to look to but Him," and the like. But, alas! how meaningless often in men's mouths are those sayings! They frequently express confidence only in God's doing what He has never promised to do;—as when a slothful, idle, dissipated man continues in his wickedness, yet ''trusts God" will ward off poverty from him, or provide for his family whom he is all the while robbing. Or the words express confidence in what God has positively declared He never will nor can do;—as when an impenitent man who has no faith in Christ, or love to Him, "trusts God will forgive him," or make him happy, or not punish him, should he die as he is. All this, and such like trust, is "vain confidence," trusting a lie, and believing a delusion. Others, again, profess to trust God's Word, but manifest a total want of trust in His ways, and will not walk in His commandments, nor submit to His corrections, believing neither to be the will of a holy and loving Father! And thus, while men in theory say they trust God, they practically have no trust in Him, whatever they may have in themselves, in the world, or in things seen and temporal. But, oh, the blessedness and the peace of him whose trust is in the Lord!

Read a few declarations from God's Word upon the crime of want of trust, and the peace enjoyed when possessing it:—

"Thus saith the Lord, Cursed he the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart de-parteth from the Lord: for he shall he like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited." "The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.....

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."

Let me just remark in passing, that in order to trust God, we must know Him. We cannot trust an unknown person. We must be able to say with Paul, "I know whom I have trusted." "They who know thy name"—i. e., thy character—"will put their trust in thee," says the Psalmist. And if we would know God, we must study His Word, —that precious record of all He has said and done towards the children of men,—so that we may see how worthy such a God is of our perfect confidence. We must, above all, know God as revealed through a Redeemer,—so that as guilty sinners we may yet be able to trust an holy and righteous God, as our Father in heaven. We must also earnestly seek, and cordially depend upon, that "Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Him," through whose teaching alone we can so spiritually discern and appreciate the character of God as our God and Father in Christ, as to be able to give Him our whole hearts, crying, "My Father!"—and thus know that "name" which contains the whole mystery of redemption, and the secret of all good and glory to our souls!

Now, this trust in God has been the character of all God's people in every age, and under every dispensation. We who live in those latter days, may say of all our spiritual ancestry, "Our fathers trusted thee!" They all had faith in the living God, and believed His word to be true, and His ways to be excellent. Abraham did so, when he went forth into the wide world, not knowing whither he went, having but God's word as a staff to lean on; and when he offered up his only son, believing that God was able even to raise him from the dead. Moses did so, when "by faith he forsook Egypt," and preferred "the reproach of Christ," and "endured, as seeing Him who is invisible !" Job did so, when deprived of everything . but God himself; when ho sat in sackcloth and ashes, and bore the glorious testimony in the presence of men and devils, '' Though He slay me, yet will I put my trust in Him." David did so, when in the name of the living God he went out to meet Goliath; and he did so during his whole life; for what are his sacred songs but anthems of joyful trust, which the Church of God can never cease to sing till faith is lost in sight? And Jehoshaphat did so, when in the presence of the great invading army he addressed his small band with the noble words, "Trust in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established." And Daniel did so, when he entered the den of lions, and came out unscathed, "because he believed in the Lord his God." And Paul did so, when he ended his triumphant life, which he "lived by faith in the Son of God," with the shout of victory, saying, ''I know whom I have trusted, and I am persuaded He can keep what I have committed to Him until that day." Thus it has been that all the children of God have known, loved, and trusted their Father, and have reflected that holy light which shone with unclouded and faultless lustre in "the First-born" of all the brethren; for Jesus ever held fast His confidence in God until His last cry of faith, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!"

Begin the year and spend it in this frame of mind! Know God, trust Him, and go on thy way, whatever it be, rejoicing! Heaven and earth may pass away, but thou art safe, because right! Let us further consider this.

Do you, for example, fear the future because it is unknown? Trust God and fear not! This ignorance of coming events which are to affect our own happiness for time or for eternity, is very remarkable, especially when contrasted with our minute and accurate knowledge of other things; such as the future movements of the moon and stars,— events which, though revealing the history of immense worlds, are yet to us of far less importance than the malady which may enter our home tomorrow, and close for ever the eyelids of a babe! In proportion, indeed, as the things of each day are to affect us, has God so concealed them, that we know not what one day shall bring forth. And is not such strange ignorance intended to accomplish at least one blessed end—that of making us fly to God himself, and look up to himself for guidance, for protection, and for peace; and thus inspiring the feeblest child with such assurance of faith, that whatever is before him he can say, "Nevertheless I am continually with thee! Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me into glory!" How grand then is this thought, that whatever may come to the believer out of the mysterious womb of time, or out of the vast recesses of an unknown and immense eternity, nothing can possibly destroy his soul's peace; for nothing can separate him from the love of the ever-present, unchangeable, omnipotent God! The stars of heaven may fall, and the heavens depart as a scroll, and every mountain and island be moved out of its place; but the meekest child of God will be kept in perfect peace on the bosom of his Father, and there rest in glory, untouched by the revolutions of coming ages, as the rainbow reposes on the bosom of the sky, unmoved by "the strong wind which rends the mountains, and breaks in pieces the rocks before the Lord."

Whether, therefore, the year is to bring life or death, poverty or riches, health or sickness to us or to our friends,—all is beyond our knowledge or our will. But, thank God, it is nevertheless within the province of our will to secure to ourselves perfect peace and rest. This sure hope is based on the glorious fact that there is a God— a living God who verily governs the universe ; whose kingdom is one of righteousness; whose omnipotence is directed by love; and who, consequently, so administers the affairs of His blessed kingdom, as that all its complex machinery of events must "work together for the good of those who love Him." Accordingly, if we only do this one thing—love and trust God as our Father at all times in the year—then must the year in all things bring good to us. It is not implied that those who love God have necessarily a different outward lot assigned to them by Providence, or one more favourable than what is bestowed upon those who love Him not. It is possible, indeed, that there may be one event to the righteous and to the wicked," nay, that the ungodly may prosper, and the righteous be "chastened every morning." But the heart of love within, by a divine chemistry, converts all those things without into means of life, which the unloving heart perverts into means of death. So long, for example, as there is life in a plant, all things apparently the most opposite minister to its growth and beauty—the light of day and the darkness of night, sunshine and cloud, drought and moisture, the air and the earth, summer and winter, storm and calm,—these but unfold its beauties, or increase its fruitfulness; but let the plant die, and the very same elements which formerly contributed to its life, become the means of its speedy corruption and decay. So is it with the soul of man. Let only the life of love possess it, and all things must work together for its good; but let it cease to love, and thus cease to live ; let it be cut off from communion with God and thus die, then will these very same things work together to intensify its selfishness, and thereby turn it into foul and loathsome corruption.

Again;—Do you fear the coming year because of certain difficult duties or many trials which you cannot but anticipate? Trust God and fear not! ''Cast thy burden (however great) upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee." Experience tells us that the evils which we once most feared never came, but were purely imaginary, while the things really appointed to us were never anticipated. Let this help us to appreciate God's goodness and wisdom more in commanding us to "take no anxious thought about the morrow," because "sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." Still you are certain of some duties or trials before you. This sickness, you say, must end in death; or this journey must, if you are in life, be taken to a foreign shore, and last farewells be spoken; or this year you must enter upon this new profession so arduous and so full of risks. And thus each one, with more or less degree of certainty, chalks an outline to himself of his future course. But supposing all your anticipations to be well-founded, yet oh! believe that when your day of trial or of duty comes, a Father, if you know Him and trust Him, will come with it. You will have on that dark day a Father's unerring wisdom to guide you, a Father's omnipotent arm to uphold you, a Father's infinite love to soothe, comfort, and fully satisfy you! Hear these precious commands and promises—" Hold fast your confidence, which hath a great reward!" "Be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which passeth understanding, will keep your mind and heart through Christ Jesus!"

Once more;—Do you fear the future, lest this year you should sin and depart from God as you have done in the past ? Trust God and fear not! For how did you depart from God before? From want of trust! You lost confidence in your Father's teaching, and leant on your own understanding, or listened to the voice of strangers;—you lost confidence in your Father's love and goodwill to you, and in His power to satisfy all your wants, and to give whatever was best for you out of His rich and inexhaustible treasures, and that, too, in the best way and in the best time, and then you demanded the portion of your goods, and departed from Him, and ceased to pray to Him or to think of Him at all, but gave your heart, soul, and strength to the creature! Were you happy? Did you find peace? You left the cistern of living waters; did the cisterns hewn out by yourselves hold water to assuage your soul's thirst? Have you not found it "an evil and a bitter thing" to forsake God? Hear, then, His invitation on the first day of a new year. He says — "Return to the Lord thy God!" Oh, accept of it! Arise, and go to thy Father, and ''abide" with Him. Never any more lose thy confidence in Him as thy strength, thy peace, thy life! Trust His mercy to pardon the past; His grace to help in the present; and His love to fill up thy being at all times. ''Fear not" "I am with thee. I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness!" Your only strength and safety are in God. Daily seek Him, daily trust Him, and you will daily serve Him.

But perhaps you fear the future lest you should not "redeem the time" as you ought to do to the glory of God? Lost time is a sad and oppressive thought to the child of God. What might he have done! What might he have been! How might he have improved his talents, and cultivated his spirit, and done good to relations, friends, neighbours, the world, had he only redeemed days, hours, minutes, which have been spent in sloth or folly! And not one second can be restored. Shall the future be a similar record to the past? You fear to think of it! But, be assured, that till the last hour of the best spent life, you will need the blood of Jesus to redeem your innumerable shortcomings as a miserable sinner. The very "light of life " which enables you to know and rejoice in Jesus, will enable you also, in proportion as it burns brightly, to know and to mourn over yourselves. But while there is cause for earnest thoughtfulness about coming time, as a talent to be improved for your own good and God's glory, there is no cause for unbelieving fear, for such "fear hath torment." God does not give you a year to spend; He gives you but a day; nay, not even that, but only the present moment! He divides the talent of time into minutes, fractions, and says to you, "Employ this one for me." Therefore do not concern yourself with what is not yours. As each day or hour comes, trust God! He is not a hard master, reaping where He does not sow; but is a Father sowing in you, and by you, in order that you, as well as Himself, might reap; so that "both sower and reaper might rejoice together." Trust Him for always pointing out to you the path of duty, so that, as a wayfarer, you will never err. Be assured, that when the moment comes in which you must take any step, He will by some small voice in His Word or providence, say to you, "This is the way, walk ye in it!" Be assured, also, that amidst many things undone, or ill done by you, He will still so help you, if sincere, to labour in His cause here, and to improve your time and talents, as to be able hereafter to say, even to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." "In the name of the Lord, then, let us lift up our banners!" Enter upon the labours and duties of the year with joy! Art thou not a fellow-labourer with thy brother saints and angels, yea, even with thy God? Doth not that omnipotent Spirit of light and love, who uniteth all in one, and who hath led the Church of Christ from grace to glory, dwell in thee? Wherefore dost thou dishonour God and His word by fear?

Finally;—May not the experience of the past strengthen your faith in God for the future ? Have you ever trusted Him in vain? Has He ever failed you in time of need? Have you found His strength insufficient to uphold you, or His wisdom unable to arrange for you, or His love exhausted in supplying your manifold wants? Ah! had you foreseen, years ago, all the past journey, so often dark and perplexing, which you have since pursued; and also all the duties which have, for their performance, successively claimed your energies; and all the trials, so many, so varied, which you have had to endure; would you not have sunk down in despair before such a spectacle? But you did not foresee what is now past. God in mercy concealed it from you, as He does what is now future. And therefore you did not, as you do not despair! The Lord has hitherto helped you, and led you through the wilderness, and held you up, and kept you from falling; and so it is that both in your inward and outward state, you are this day a monument of His power, mercy, patience, grace!

And now, in peace of heart, say with Paul, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Lord, it is enough ! Never separated from Thyself for one moment in our existence, here or anywhere, we can never be separated from the chief object of our affections, from Him who is the fulness of our whole being, the never-failing source of our blessedness and joy. Believing in Thee our Father, we enter another year, and advance along our endless journey, not knowing what a day or an hour may bring forth; but knowing this, as all we care to know, that during every day and hour we are "continually with Thee." A long life on earth may be ours, but neither its labours or its cares, its temptations or its trials, shall be able to destroy our peace, because unable to separate us from Thy love. Thy love will give life to every duty, deliverance from every temptation, guidance in every perplexity, and comfort in every trial. Death may come, in what form or in what circumstances, how soon or how late, we cannot tell; but we fear no evil, however dark its shadow, for " Thou art with us." Eternity must come, and may come to us ere this year ends. If so, where shall we be? what shall we be doing ? whom shall we meet ? what sights shall we behold? what angels, principalities, and powers, good or bad, must we encounter ? In vain we ask! But not in vain we believe, that neither angels, principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, can separate us during the infinite duration of our immortal life from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ADVICES ON ENTERING A NEW YEAR.

1. Let a short portion of time—say half an hour at least—be spent each day this year in private prayer, in reading God's Word, and, if possible, some devotional book.

2. Let it be the great spiritual work of the year to become better acquainted personally with Jesus Christ as the living and ever-present Friend, Brother, and Saviour.

3. Endeavour to concentrate your efforts to do good upon some definite unselfish work in your family or out of it, which may help others, as it certainly must help yourself.

4. In all things try to live more towards God, seeking His approval of your inner and outer life. The less you talk about yourself or your doings before men, the better for yourself and for them.

5. Aim this year at being a peacemaker between professing Christians; to allay disputes, and to heal breaches among friends and relations ; and to make men respect and esteem each other more.

6. Do not leave behind you in the old year guilt unpardoned, but believe in Jesus for the remission of sins; nor enter a new year with sin loved and cherished, but accept of and rely upon His Spirit to sanctify you. Begin the year without enmity to any man on earth, "forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, even so do ye."

7. If you are the head of the house, resolve to read a portion of God's Word once a day at least to the family; and either read or offer up, always with them, a short but hearty prayer.

8. Endeavour to keep an account of your income and expenditure, that you may be able to live justly and generously. Give what you can to assist poor relatives, and poor Christians, and the Church of Christ. Try this one year to tax yourself ten per cent. on your free income for such purposes.

Learn to do these things, and many more will the Lord teach thee to know and do; and may the God of love and peace be with thee!


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